National Party MLC Doug Moppett, a prominent political figure in the western area, will retire from the NSW Parliament because of a terminal illness.
Highly respected within party ranks,
Mr Moppett has served in the Legislative Council for more than 11 years.
Officials yesterday described his imminent retirement as a "sad occasion for the party" he had served for most of his life.
The political veteran is taking time to be with friends and loved ones.
"It's very unlikely at this stage (that he will talk with the media)," a spokeswoman from his parliamentary office said.
"We are just letting him be with his family at the moment. It is quite serious."
Local members of the party were shocked to learn of Mr Moppett's condition during a Dubbo branch meeting on Tuesday night.
"Doug will be very sorely missed by the National Party as a whole and certainly by people in this area," branch president Peter Bartley said.
"He was duty MLC for this area and performed his duties with distinction. Doug was well liked and had a wealth of political experience. I was deeply saddened by the news."
Helen Dickie, party State chairman, said Mr Moppett had made "a wonderful contribution to country people".
Nationals Legislative Council leader Duncan Gay said the party would miss his colleague's strength, integrity and "tremendous contribution to the people of regional NSW".
Nominations for Mr Moppett's replacement opened yesterday and will close on July 4.